Is one of your goals for this year to incorporate healthier habits into your routine? If you’re looking to supplement your well-balanced diet with over-the-counter products but unsure where to start, consider these staple supplements:
First, consider a vitamin D supplement to promote strong bones. Also present in sunlight, milk and fatty fish like salmon or tuna, this vitamin supports your immune system and muscles.* The Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for vitamin D ranges from 400 to 800 units based on age and gender, so talk with your pharmacist or other healthcare practitioner to learn what’s best for you. Your practitioner may even recommend supplementing at different times of day to ensure your body best absorbs the nutrients.
Zinc may also be beneficial to your immune system, which is especially important during cold and flu season.* Like other minerals, the recommended daily dose of zinc varies depending on your age and life stage. Though you may already be getting zinc through oysters, crab, lobster, beans, nuts and whole grains, vegetarians may need higher amounts of zinc because your body absorbs it from plant-based foods differently. If you can’t obtain all the zinc you need from your diet, zinc supplements are available in several forms including tablets, capsules and lozenges. Check with a medical professional to ensure you’re taking the right dose!
Magnesium is a mineral that’s found in the body and naturally present in many foods like spinach, nuts and whole grains. It’s important for nerve function, blood pressure and blood sugar levels.* While magnesium deficiency is uncommon, certain individuals may be at an increased risk for low magnesium levels, including people with malabsorption related to gastrointestinal disease, those dependent on alcohol, and older adults. Depending on your age and gender, 30 to 420 milligrams of magnesium daily is recommended. Supplements come in several different varieties and forms. Magnesium aspartate, magnesium citrate, magnesium lactate and magnesium chloride are more easily absorbed by the body than other forms. You may also recognize magnesium in some OTC products that treat heartburn and indigestion.
Iron & Folic Acid
Iron and folic acid are more effective when taken together. Iron helps your body make hormones and red blood cells which carry oxygen throughout your body, while folic acid enables your body to make DNA and other genetic material.* Depending on age and life stage, the RDA for iron is 7 to 27 milligrams (with pregnant women needing the high end), and 65 to 600 micrograms for folic acid. Alternatively, women could choose to take a prenatal vitamin containing iron and folic acid as described. If you’re wondering “Do I need a prenatal vitamin?” the short answer is “yes.”
If the idea of taking a few different OTC products seems daunting to you, a multivitamin may be the way to go. Multivitamins pack different minerals and vitamins into one convenient product, and they come in a variety of forms including tablets and gummy vitamins. Multivitamins often contain the recommended amount of each individual vitamin or mineral in a once-daily product, so they’re a great option for filling in possible nutritional gaps in your diet.
How do you know which multivitamin to pick? The recommended nutrient amount varies by age and gender as described by the National Institutes of Health Office of Dietary Supplements. Ask your pharmacist or other healthcare provider which regimen is right for you!
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*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.
Disclaimer: This information is educational only and not providing healthcare recommendations. Please see a healthcare provider.